Home European Citizenship Member states must stop selling EU passports - Golden Visas immediately, MEPs...

Member states must stop selling EU passports – Golden Visas immediately, MEPs demand

EU citizenship cannot be traded as a commodity, according to a majority of speakers, who want to end the “golden passports” schemes currently in place in some member states. #eudebates #passports #GoldenVisas #Visas #Cyprus #Malta #Bulgaria

Cyprus, Malta, and Bulgaria are the three EU countries where it is possible to get citizenship in exchange for an investment, the so-called “golden passports”. As many as 19 EU countries operate “residence by investment” programmes, known as “golden visas”.

In a plenary debate with Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, MEPs stressed the inherent risks that these programmes give rise to, namely money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. They insisted that Europe must not have “a fast-track entrance for criminals”.

MEPs underlined that granting EU citizenship to third-country nationals without proper checks and transparency has negative consequences in other member states, eroding mutual trust and undermining common values.

Several speakers referred to the recent scandal in Cyprus, where high-ranking officials – including the Speaker of the national parliament – were secretly recorded offering to assist a fictional Chinese executive with a criminal record in getting a Cypriot passport through the national “citizenship by investment” scheme. They also acknowledge the Commission’s decision to open infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta, though some complained that it has taken too long to act.

Some MEPs noted that the share of revenues from these programmes is significant for countries such as Cyprus, whilst many argued that EU values and rights should not be for sale.

In January 2019, the European Commission established a group of experts with representatives from all EU member states to develop common standards and guidelines in this area. After four meetings last year, the group has so far not met in 2020.

The European Commission has decided to launch infringement procedures against two member states regarding their investor citizenship schemes also referred to as “golden passport” schemes.

By issuing letters of formal notice to Cyprus and Malta, the Commission considers that the granting by these member states of their nationality in exchange for a pre-determined payment or investment and without a genuine link with them is not compatible with the principles of the EU treaty.

The Commission is also writing to Bulgaria to highlight its concerns regarding an investor citizenship scheme operated by that member State and requesting further details (20 October).

Due to the nature of EU citizenship, such schemes have implications for the EU as a whole. When a member state awards nationality, the person concerned automatically becomes an EU citizen and enjoys all rights linked to this status, such as the right to move, reside and work freely within the EU, or the right to vote in municipal elections as well as elections to the European Parliament.

As a consequence, the effects of investor citizenship schemes are neither limited to the member states operating them, nor are they neutral with regard to other member states and the EU as a whole and undermines the essence of EU citizenship.

The Cypriot and Maltese governments have two months to reply to the letters of formal notice. If the replies are not satisfactory, the Commission may issue a Reasoned Opinion in this matter.

The conditions for obtaining and forfeiting national citizenship are regulated by the national law of each member state, subject to due respect for EU law. Until now, the Commission has been reluctant to interfere in the sales of passports by certain member states.

A study in 2018 showed that, in one or another form, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, United Kingdom and candidate country Montenegro have all offered Golden Visa schemes with investments ranging from €250,000 to €10 million.

“This is an important and overdue step in the fight against money laundering and corruption in Europe,” commented MEP Sven Giegold (Greens/EFA). “Malta and Cyprus have been a security blackspot in Europe by allowing the sale of passports to criminals, corrupt and money launderers from all over the world.”

Rachel Owens, Head of EU Office at Global Witness, said that, ”Countless news stories and NGO investigations have sounded the alarm over the use of schemes by the criminal and corrupt to buy access to Europe”.

“Whilst appearing to agree with those warnings, the European Commission was slow to properly crackdown on golden visas. It is therefore music to our ears to see the EU finally taking concrete action against two countries whose schemes pose the highest risk.”


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  1. What a bunch of hypocrites! When they talk about European values do they mean immigrants who will chop our heads of if we speak what they don't want to hear?! They need to start cleaning their own back yard and scum that is already in these countries. They ''worry'' about wealthy individuals buying passports, but they will gladly accepts thousands of undocumented immigrants that are looking for ''asylum''. I can only imagine what will Europe look like in 50 years. Disaster!

  2. A lot of pathetic comments from serfs here. What’s wrong with citizenship being commodity? People should have right to choose to live anywhere they want as long as they don’t demand welfare payments. Those rich people bring money, not take it. I absolutely despise those people who say that you should live where you born no matter what.

  3. FFS, the EU commission whining about ‘golden visas’ and the potential for criminality is bloody rich! What has done more to embolden criminals than free movement around the European continent? I also note that the majority of the EU states using these golden visas are the poorer ones in the EU, hasn’t this toxic and parasitic organisation done enough damage to these countries already? Thank god the UK is out of this poisonous collaboration and hopefully the rest of Europe will soon see the sense of dumping these unelected and incompetent clowns in the EU commission…….

  4. I would like to remind the EU that as much as Golden Visas facilitate entrance into Europe, the EU is also allowing in every undocumented illegal immigrant. Both groups with access to the EU with absolutely no consequences!

  5. Thank Christ for Brexit. We will not be seeing mafia CCP members, other criminal scum and corrupt politicians on our shores through EU member states' corruption and free movement. The EU, despite fine words is a monumental failure and just a treasure chest for corrupt politicians. Thank Christ for Nigel. All such visas must be cancelled immediately and corrupt member states brought to justice. European Union! What union?

  6. No one listened to Nigel he was labelled a racist and was shouted down by the EU parliament. It’s not just the UK who doesn’t want illegal people in. Words fail one!!


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